By A.J. Kaufman
Tennessee’s founding father and first governor can look down on Johnson City and see a descendant playing football for ETSU this season.
Zach Borisch, who graduated earlier this year from the University of Idaho with a dual major in medical science and biochemistry, should get some carries for the Bucs this fall after transferring in from Idaho, a Division I FCS program. Borisch is the great-great-great-great-great-grandson of John Sevier, Revolutionary War hero and East Tennessee icon.
“We always knew about the connection and family history, as his two sisters are Daughters of the American Revolution,” Borisch’s father Robert told the News and Neighbor. “Zach was always good at football and excelled at it, wrestling and judo. He decided on Idaho due to their medical school program. He is going to be a doctor.”
Borisch is not a Volunteer State native or even from the east. He was raised in the Pacific Northwest and earned state player of the year and state champion honors his senior year at Kamiakin High School in Kennewick, Wash.
He recently moved across the country to play for ETSU — incidentally, going from the Tri-Cities of Washington State to the Tri-Cities of Tennessee. Borisch was a starting quarterback while at Idaho but also saw action as a running back and wide receiver. As a mobile quarterback, he ran for seven touchdowns and tossed three for the Vandals.
A talented athlete, he excels in wrestling and traveled abroad to represent the United States in Judo competitions as a teenager.
He currently looks forward to playing one more season of football.
“I chose ETSU because I really liked the coaches that recruited me here. They made me feel very welcomed, and most importantly, wanted,” Borisch said. “I thought it was a great opportunity, and being far from home, it was new and different, and I liked that idea. Being short term made it seem like an easy and fun thing to do.”
After this year, Borisch plans to do research at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington State, while studying for the MCATs and then applying to medical school.
As for the historic connection, Borisch did not know about his famous legacy until this summer. The connection to Sevier goes through his father Robert’s side of the family through Patricia Garrett Gingles, Marie Eliz May Garrett, James Wentworth May, James Newton May, Mary Ann Sevier May and John Sevier.
“I thought it was unique that I ended up here, and given I have heritage to the state makes it feel like I was meant to be here in a way,” he explained. “I did get to drive through Sevierville…and that was a unique experience — to know the town was named after someone I am related to.”
The ETSU football team opens their 2023 season in Alabama Sept. 2 against Jacksonville State University.